Second race of the 2016 IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge schedule took place at Sebring a little over a week ago. In reflection, the #27 TRUMPF, Inc. Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 was strong right off the bat. Minimal tuning on the car was needed so hats off to the Freedom Autosport crew for really getting the car dialed in before it even rolled of the truck.
My co-driver, Danny Bender, and I felt extremely confident going into qualifying along with the #25 and #26 cars. There unfortunately was a small issue with the car during qualifying that was able to be fixed immediately after. However, we did have to start from the back of the field at the drop of the green flag. Danny knew he had a tough job ahead of him trying to make up positions while still conserving the car for me to finish the race.
In the race, Danny moved through the field quickly and efficiently, leaving me with a great car with which I knew I could contend for a podium finish. Danny turned the car over to me in 9th position in the ST class and the drivers and crew performed a great pitstop/driver change.
Once I was in the car, we almost immediately got a full course yellow which we were depending on to make it to the end on fuel. This meant that I'd be coming to the restart in 2nd. After the green flag came out, I quickly took the lead of the race and continued to stretch out my lead over the rest of the field. After settling in for awhile, I was soon outpaced by the two Honda's. After making a few mistakes and getting caught out with debris across the track in Turn 10, we finished 12th.
All things considered, I am proud of the team and drivers for what we accomplished given the situations we were dealt in the race. To take the lead of the race on my 18th birthday with my whole family watching was special to me and something I can cherish for a long time. Yes, it would have been good to bring home a stronger finish. However, we are still very much in the chase for the championship at this moment and I can not wait to go to Mazda's stomping ground at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where the Mazda MX-5's perform extremely well.